Particles that radiate from decaying radon atoms can ravage the living cells they strike and increase the likelihood that those cells will later become cancerous. Researchers have now directly demonstrated that neighboring cells not suffering direct hits can be harmed, too. They've also taken a step toward showing how this type of radiation, called alpha particles, indirectly hurts those bystanders.
Radon derives from the decay of uranium and seeps naturally into the air from the ground. It's the primary environmental source of alpha particles, which contribute to cancer risk by causing aberrations in DNA. Alpha particles from inhaled radon are s